A sneak peek of DSA International Summer Conference 24: Interview with Angel A. Juan

IDA: As DSA Board Member and as Organization Lead of this year Summer Summit Angel, what is this year’s theme for the DSA 2024 Conference in Valencia?

Angel A Juan: This year’s conference focuses on empowering human decision-making in a data-, model-, and algorithm-driven world. The challenge of the summit is to bring together academics and professionals—academics from universities, researchers, and industry practitioners. All these individuals are becoming experts in decision-making because everyone must make increasingly complex decisions daily due to a variety of factors. We all know we have to deal with growing amounts of data. Each year, we have more data available in companies and research, so managing these rising data levels is crucial. We also have to process this data using optimization models, simulation models, machine learning models, etc.

And, of course, we have new artificial intelligence algorithms and models, such as generative AI models. We need to combine all these tools and this expertise to develop better models and algorithms so we can make a more efficient use of the data we have available. Ultimately, this enables us to make better decisions, which is fundamental for all companies and, as you can imagine, also for universities and research institutions. Traditionally, people from universities attended scientific conferences, which are fantastic for sharing state-of-the-art research on emerging topics. On the other hand, people from companies attend different types of conferences, perhaps more practical, focusing on day-to-day business. What we aim to achieve at the DSA summit is to merge these two worlds. We are designing a hybrid type of conference so that we can have people from universities, researchers, and industry professionals together, sharing interchangeable experiences and contacts, collaborating staff, and ultimately learning from each other and discovering opportunities for cooperation. 

The event will take place at the Technical University of Valencia, which has been ranked as the best polytechnic in Spain according to the Shanghai ranking for several years now, and I believe it’s a truly wonderful university with a beautiful campus.

IDA: How is DSA team developing the experience there? What events and experiences will participants have at the DSA Summit this year?

Angel A Juan: We have a very comprehensive and attractive program, as it combines keynote speeches from experts around the world, from the United States to Europe. These speakers will enlighten us on how Artificial Intelligence and analytical models can be applied across different sectors, from logistics and transportation to healthcare, risk management, insurance, manufacturing, and even smart cities. We have these keynote speakers, and beyond that, other esteemed experts in these models and their applications in industry and business. We also have career plans, so we will invite our sponsors to conduct interviews with students to try to attract young and talented people to their companies.

This is the more scientific, technical, and practical aspect of the conference. Additionally, we have a full schedule of activities around these talks, including roundtable discussions to engage with the audience about developments in AI and machine learning models in decision-making, and several workshops. We also have some wonderful leisure activities planned, like for example yoga sessions at the beach. Given all this, I am sure it’sgoing to be a fantastic experience for everyone.

IDA: Please tell us more about the partnership with Springer Publisher, which I consider a significant honor. 

Angel A Juan: Absolutely.  We have the opportunity to launch a series of Lecture Notes in Computer Science associated with Springer. The best papers from the conference will be published in these volumes and made available globally through them. Additionally, it’s important to note that after the conference, there will be several special issues of international scientific journals dedicated to the conference.

IDA:The Summit will be in the early days of June. What are the reasons people should attend the event?

Angel A Juan: First of all, I must say that we have some very dear sponsors who provide us the opportunity to develop such an interesting event. Some of our sponsors include Guy Carpenter, and Baobab Soluciones in Spain, NTT DATA, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, Optit in Italy, Divina, Pastora Seguros, and Eccentric. We have a strong group of sponsors, and thanks to them, we are able to organize a substantial event. DSA partners ewill attend the Summit as well, sharing their innovative projects in the most effective way. In such a scenario, I’m confident that attendees will experience the mission of the DSA in its entirety, through high-quality interactions among participants. The Decision Science Alliance facilitates connections between the best scientific research and leading businesses under the banner of its multidisciplinary approach, typical of Decision Science. This is truly unique, a one-of-a-kind experience in Europe. Similar experiences might be found in the United States, but they are certainly rare in Europe. Therefore, I think the most compelling reason to participate is the quality of the experience itself.

IDA: That’s wonderful; I’ve also heard about the Gala Dinner, a very exclusive event this year.

Angel A Juan: Yes, it’s an exclusive networking opportunity during those days, right? Indeed. For the Gala Dinner, we have chosen a truly stunning venue: the Oceanogràfic of Valencia. This is part of the City of Arts and Sciences, a beautiful piece of architecture that will appeal to anyone with an appreciation for design. The venue is located in a relatively new part of Valencia, close to the Mediterranean Sea. With a population of over 1.5 million people, Valencia was founded by the Romans in 138 B.C., and in 2022 was considered ‘the best city in the world to live in’ by Forbes magazine. In particular, the City of Arts and Sciences is home to spectacular buildings, and Valencia has hosted premier events such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix or the America’s Cup for ships. 

IDA: At this point, I have the opportunity to mention that IDA, the voice of the DSA, will cover all the events, producing extensive content throughout the days of the summit as special workshop, interviews and through our streams online. 

Angel A Juan: I think in particular that IDA is a crucial part of the DSA, because we live in a world where communication is key. We aim to merge the worlds of business and research. IDA plays a central role here in facilitating communication from one world to the other. Having a summit every year is fantastic, but throughout the year, IDA is our source, our channel for communication between researchers and industry professionals. So, I am confident that IDA will be a great success, and I truly hope that the interviews in IDA will encourage more and more people to participate in the EDCA.

IDA: Certainly. As IDA staff, we will greatly enjoy participating and doing our work during the events, so thank you very much, Angel. Let’s catch up in Valencia!